Can you run only on weekends and still be considered a "runner?"  Sure.  If you're not careful though, you might also get injured.  Running well (safely and enjoyably) requires strength, skill, and endurance. If you allow your muscles to rest all week, that Saturday morning run may turn into a weekend warrior injury.  Keep your body run-ready by cross training, and you'll improve your running performance and overall fitness.

The Mayo Clinic defines "cross training" as a combination of two or more types of physical activity.  Cross training reduces your risk of injury by giving your bones, muscles, and joints a rest from repetitive stresses. Cross training mixes it up for your mind and body and keeps you from getting bored.  Doing the same old thing leads to exercise plateaus where you see little payback for your effort. Since different sports require varying intensity, you'll burn more calories too. Cross training activities include biking, swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer or any other sport that keeps you moving at a brisk pace. 

How do busy people fit cross training into their schedules?  Incorporating exercise is easier than you think, even for people who think they only have time on weekends. 

Make a plan:  Decide on several sports you want to try, and then pull out your calendar.  Schedule exercise as you would any other important activity.  Look at mornings, lunch hours, after-school and evening times.  If you're already running on weekends, you only really need to find three additional 30-minute time slots to maintain fitness.  It's OK to break exercise up into small chunks.  About 10-15 minutes twice a day is as effective as one 30-minute sprint. 

Do it all:  Choose activities that include cardiac, strength-training, and flexibility benefits.  Alternate workouts:  one day of cardio, one day of weights; one day bike riding to work, another day doing yoga.  Mix it up, but work all the major muscle groups.  Be sure to include post-workout stretches and/or yoga or Pilates in your fitness plan.

Take it indoors:  Use the treadmill, elliptical trainer or Stairmaster when you don't have time for an outdoor run.  Runners agree they're different but extremely beneficial for staying in shape indoors. 

Weekend Warm Up

When Saturday morning finally arrives, prepare your muscles for your run.  Start out walking for 5 minutes or more.  Gradually increase your pace until you're ready to run.  Set a specific goal for time (running longer) or distance (running farther).  Don't overdo it by trying to do both.  Add speed, duration, and distance gradually an one at a time.  

Chill out:  The cool down segment of your run is crucial.  Walk the last few minutes of your workout to bring your heart and respiratory rates down gradually.  Finish up with a good stretch.

Drink to your Health:  Keep your muscles pumping smoothly and circulation humming by staying hydrated.  Take regular water breaks.